Meat and poultry can be contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, and can cause illness and death. To prevent foodborne ailments, meat should be refrigerated within an hour of purchase and cooked to the appropriate temperature before serving.
Refrigerator temperature should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and freezer temperature should be zero degrees or below. To defrost meat, place in a leak-proof plastic bag, run it under cold water or place it in the refrigerator, but never leave it out on the kitchen counter.
Must-Know Cooking Times
Most people don't use a thermometer every time they cook their meat, so how do you know when it's reached the proper cooking temperature and is safe to eat?
Chef Devin Alexander confirms the proper cook times for chicken, pork and beef based on the recommended 4-ounce serving of meat. Be sure to store meat in a clean container with a lid, on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid any drippings that can spoil other foods.
• In a skillet on medium to high heat, cook chicken breasts for 3 minutes on each side, add your favorite toppings, then roast in the oven for 5 to 9 minutes.
• Broil pork for 3 to 5 minutes per side.
• For a medium-rare steak, cook in a grill pan for 4 to 5 minutes per side.
• Ground beef appears brown before reaching a safe internal temperature. Make sure to grill hamburgers at least 3 minutes per side, and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Temperature Guide to Cooking Meat: • Cook beef steaks, fish and lamb at 145 degrees Fahrenheit. • Cook pork and ground meat at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. • Cook chicken breast at 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Food Heating Safety
Don't heat foods in a plastic container to prevent chemicals from the plastic leeching into your food.
• Don't cook in nonstick pans that have a scratched coating. • Don't overheat pans